Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.
Ending the Year
The end of the school year brings with it unique opportunities and challenges in dealing with students. This can be an important time to solidify learning and a chance for reflection on personal growth, but also a time in which distractions are high. These ideas can help keep your high school students engaged with in-depth projects as they prepare for the end of the school year.
End of the Year Project Ideas
End of the Year Editorial
Tell students that they are going to compile a set of editorials on the end of the school year which reflect on the experiences from that year that mattered to people. To start, each student will come up with a list of interview questions about the year; what people learned, the experiences that mattered to them, and thoughts about the upcoming year. Each of your students will then interview at least five students from outside of your classroom, and conduct research on school, national, and global events from the last year. Each student will use all of this to write their end-of-the-year editorial, which should be designed to make a point about what this last year meant to people and how this sets up expectations for next year. Give students a chance to write their editorials, peer-edit each other's work, and complete a final draft before compiling them into a class journal.
- Materials: Writing supplies.
Summarize the Year
This project can be completed by students independently or in groups. Ask students to carefully review their notes from the entire year. Each student/group is going to create a skit in which they summarize all of the information they learned on this subject in the last year in a three-minute sketch. Being forced to compress all of this information into such a compact format should not only be entertaining, but can also help you identify the areas that students really connected with in the curriculum.
In addition, each student will create an annotated syllabus for this subject. In this, students will write out the week-by-week schedule from the year, editing it to include the major information learned in that time and drawing connections between materials presented at various points throughout the year. This annotated syllabus should contain factual information learned, as well as personal thoughts and reflections on this material.
- Materials: Course notes, writing supplies.
Many schools publish a yearbook at the end of the school year, but for this project each student will create a yearbook specific to them and their experiences. Students will start by planning out the layout and organization of their yearbook, considering what information needs to be included, the events and experiences that defined their year, how they've grown/changed, what they've learned, and other things happening in the school/country/world. Students will create the physical yearbook like a scrapbook, compiling photographs and documents from the year as well as adding personal editorials, reflections, and summaries written by the students specifically for this personal yearbook. Once students are done, they can exchange and sign each other's yearbooks.
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